ISLAMABAD: Islamabad will host a trilateral dialogue between Pakistan, Afghanistan and China on Saturday amid reports that a deal between the United States and Taliban was just round the corner.
This would be the third trilateral dialogue, actually initiated by Beijing in 2017 amid rising tensions between Islamabad and Kabul with an objective to help normalise relations and start joint development projects in Afghanistan.
“Another objective of the start of this dialogue was to convince Pakistan to help in the Afghan peace process. This mechanism greatly helped in removing misunderstandings and normalise relations between the two neighbouring states,” the sources added.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi would be leading a high-level delegation while Afghanistan would likely be represented by its Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani or National Security Advisor Hamdullah Mohib.
However, it is not yet confirmed whether the foreign minister or the NSA will lead the delegation because of their engagements in the peace talks and the United Nations General Assembly, respectively. A final decision in this regard will be taken on Friday.
The sources said that Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi would lead Pakistani delegation at the dialogue.
Foreign Minister Wang Yi is expected to hold meetings with Prime Minister Imran Khan and Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa.
Pakistan, China and Pakistan commenced the dialogue in 2017, with its first meeting hosted in Beijing.
Next year, Afghanistan hosted the dialogue where the three countries signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) of joint cooperation to counter terrorism in Kabul in 2018.
The document was signed by Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Afghan counterpart Salahuddin Rabbani.
Better border management between Pakistan and Afghanistan and intelligence sharing are also part of the dialogue besides cooperation for the Afghan reconciliation process.
Development projects in Afghanistan following peace dialogue is another common subject Pakistan and China would be discussing.
China also wants to further strengthen relations with Afghanistan and desires to make Afghanistan a part of China, Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
The sources said that keeping in view the fast developments taking place in the regional perspective, Wang Yi’s visit is of crucial nature.
“This would be the first visit to Islamabad by China’s foreign minister who fully supported Pakistan’s request to immediately convene a special session of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) and take up an application at by Pakistan against Indian annexation of Jammu and Kashmir by India,” the sources said.
FM Wang Yi had also cancelled his visit to India which was scheduled to happen soon after his visit to Pakistan.
His visit to New Delhi was important to help normalize tensions between the three nuclear neighbours – China, Pakistan and India – over the Indian annexation of Jammu and Kashmir.
It merits mention that the cancellation of the Chinese Foreign Minister’s visit to New Delhi may affect the state visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to New Delhi scheduled in next month.